A Rockingham County sheriff’s deputy, who was working part-time for the Broadway Police Department when he was shot four times during a traffic stop early Tuesday morning, returned home with a police escort Thursday in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Multiple law enforcement officers and family social media posts identified the deputy as Cpl. Patrick Tate, who was already scheduled to be promoted to sergeant on Dec. 1.
Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said one of the four shots hit the deputy in the chest, but his bullet-proof vest blocked the round.
“It saved his life … there’s not even a question of it,” he said. “Without that, we’re talking about a different story.”
The deputy stopped a 2001 BMW near the intersection of Daphna and Brethren roads at about 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday. As he approached, Hutcheson said, the driver immediately opened fire with a handgun and then fled the scene.
A nearby Timberville police officer started to pursue the car.
At one point, Hutcheson said, the car slowed and let a passenger out before continuing the attempt to outrun police on Lacey Spring Road.
Another deputy joined the chase, which turned onto southbound North Valley Pike. In the 8000 block, Hutcheson said, the driver shot himself and the vehicle crashed into a grassy area.
Rescue personnel responded to both scenes.
The deputy and suspect were taken to Sentara RMH Medical Center and flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.
The suspect, Randall Hopper, 34, of Harrisonburg, died. Hopper was wanted for failing to appear in Rockingham County Circuit Court on grand larceny charges. He was out on bond at the time of the shooting.
The Virginia State Police is continuing the investigation.
Tate, who underwent surgery on his hand Wednesday, was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon. A convoy of police from multiple agencies escorted him from Charlottesville to his home in Rockingham County.
The sheriff said he’s pleased with Tate’s recovery. Hutcheson said he didn’t think he would be released so soon.
“It’s definitely a whole lot sooner than we had anticipated,” he said. “You have to give credit to the folks over at U.Va. Things were looking pretty rough, but the doctors over there are pretty amazing. With the good Lord above, we’re very fortunate.”
Tate’s law enforcement career started as a jailer at the Rockingham County Jail in December 2012. In November 2013, he was promoted to the patrol division.
In 2017, Tate was named the area’s Lawperson of the Year, an annual award handed out by the Harrisonburg Kiwanis Club.
At the time, Hutcheson shared a story about Tate heading to a remote area near Broadway to serve an arrest warrant for a minor violation.
Once he arrived, he found a family living in a cold school bus. They barely had any firewood to keep a fire going for warmth. The next day, Tate asked another deputy to come help him chop wood at his home, and they delivered a load to the family.
Hutcheson said Tate kept it quiet, but he eventually found out what his deputy did for the family.
“He’s a caring, generous type of person,” Hutcheson said. “That’s the type of person he is.”
Meanwhile, the community has stepped up to help the family as Tate recovers.
A fellow officer setup a GoFundMe page to help the deputy financially. As of Friday, the page received roughly $35,000 in donations.
“It tells you the type of community we’re blessed to be in,” Hutcheson said. “There wasn’t even a delay. They jumped right at it. The family is astounded by it.”